Excerpts from the Report by Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger
(2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps)
Regarding the Campaign for the Capture of Atlanta
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, FIRST DIV., 20TH ARMY CORPS
Atlanta, Ga., September 11, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to forward a report of operations and of the part taken by the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps, in the campaign for the capture of Atlanta.
This brigade, consisting of the 27th Indiana Vol. Inf., Col. Silas Colgrove; 13th New Jersey Vol. Inf., Col. Ezra Carman; 150th New York Vol. Inf., Col. John H. Ketcham; 3rd Wisconsin Veteran Vol. Inf., Col. William Hawley; 107th New York Vol. Inf., Col. Nirom M. Crane, and 2nd Massachusetts Veteran Vol. Inf., Col. William Cogswell, was, during the winter of 1863 and 1864 stationed for the protection of that portion of the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga, from Christiana to Elk River bridge, inclusive. The brigade was concentrated at Tullahoma, Tenn., April 27, with the exception of the 3rd Wisconsin Vols., stationed at Fayetteville, Lincoln County, Tenn., and the 107th NY Vols., which had been ordered to move to Shelbyville, Tenn., and escort from that place to the command a wagon train sent to Nashville for supplies. On the 28th day of April, 1864, the brigade took up its line of march for the main army and the enemy. April 28, it moved to Decherd, Tenn. April 29, from Decherd to University Place, Tenn. April 30, from University Place to Battle Creek (Sweeden’s Cove), Tenn.
May 1, it marched from Battle Creek via Bridgeport, Ala., to Shellmound, Tenn., at which point the division concentrated. May 2, from Shellmound, moved with the division to Aetna, Tenn. May 3, from Aetna to east side of Lookout Mountain, and camped in the valley near Chattanooga. May 4, from near Chattanooga, via Rossville, to Lee and Gordon’s Mills, Ga. May 5, from Lee and Gordon’s Mills to Pleasant Grove Church. May 7, from Pleasant Groce Church, over Taylor’s Ridge, to Anderson (Trickum) Post-Office, Ga. May 8, 3rd Wisconsin Vols. joined the brigade. May 9, 107th NY Vols. joined the brigade. May 10, marched from Anderson PO to and through Snake Creek Gap. On the 13th day of May the brigade, with the division to which it belongs, moved to the vicinity of Resaca and took position, covering the approach from the direction of Dalton and acted as supporting force during a reconnaissance made by the 14th Corps toward Resaca, from the left. On the 14th of May the division was massed in support of the 3rd Div. of the corps in line in front of the enemy at Resaca.
On the afternoon of the 14th day of May, about 4 o’clock, the brigade with the division moved to the extreme left of the main line to the support of the left of the 4th Corps, then pressed the enemy. The arrival of the division was opportune, as the enemy had succeeded in turning the left of the 4th Corps, throwing back its left brigade in considerable confusion, and were still advancing, and on the point of capturing a battery abandoned by its support when the division came up. The 3rd Brigade being in advance, quickly repulsed and drove back the force of the enemy which was making for the battery. The 2nd Brigade took position next, on the left of Stanley’s division, 4th Corps, the 3rd Brigade on its left, the 1st Brigade in support.
On the 15th of May was fought the action commonly known as the battle of Resaca. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the 20th Corps moved to attack the enemy at a point in front on of the left of the position held by the 4th Corps. At this point an angle existed in the main line of the enemy’s intrenchments, his line bearing therefrom to his right and rear. The 1st Div. was to support the 2nd and 3rd of the corps. The attack by the 2nd and 3rd Divs. was only a partial success. The 1st Div. was then ordered to a position on the left of the other two divs., covering their left flank. The 1st Brigade on the right of the division, the 2nd on its left. The brigade moved about 3 p.m. and was formed in two lines and in echelon to the 1st Brigade. As soon as the brigade was formed I received orders from BG Williams, commanding the division, to move forward across an open ground and occupy the woods beyond, which skirted the railroad near Green’s Station and at some 250 yards distant from the enemy’s breastworks. While executing this movement I received orders from MG Hooker, commanding the corps, by Lt-Col. Perkins, his ass’t adjutant-general, to advance my left and, if possible, to swing round into position, threatening the enemy’s right flank. Soon after takin position in the woods, and while the brigade was executing the movement, my skirmishers became sharply engaged with those of the enemy. It was at the same time reported to me that the enemy was massing on my left. Becoming satisfied that such was the case, I threw back the left of my line, placing two regiments in the second line, on the left of those of the first, extending to and covering a knoll forming the end of the ridge on which the line of my brigade was formed, which knoll was the key to that part of the line.
Reporting the state of things to BG Williams, commanding the division, he ordered the 3rd Brigade, Col. Robinson commanding, to take position on my left and cover the left flank. The line of the brigade was about 400 yards distant from the enemy’s line of breastworks, and in the following order of regiments from right to left: [27th IN, 2nd MA, 3rd WS, 13 NJ, 150 NY, 107 NY–in reserve]. That portion of the line occupied by the 27th IN, 2nd MA, 3rd WS, and the right of the 13 NJ was covered with trees and underbrush in front and the ground slightly rising. In front of the center of the 13th NJ was a peach orchard, and beyond that, at some 50 to 75 yards, woods, the ground descending rapidly from the peach orchard. In front of the left of the 13 NJ, and the whole of the position about the knoll, the groung was open and descended rapidly to the plain. The railroad was some 200 or 300 yards in front of the position and afforded by the excavation at that point good cover to the enemy. To the left of the knoll the gorund was level and covered with thick woods. The knoll was occupied by a dwelling-house and out-building (Scales’ House). Colonels Ketcham and Carman, on the left, were ordered to and constructed temporary breastworks of rails on that part of the line inclosing the knoll. This disposition had hardly been made when the enemy advanced along the whole front. His first line was easily repulsed, when he advance his second, which fought more obstinately than his first, but gained no advantage and was driven back with comparatively heavy loss. On the right, the 27th IN, Col. Cogrove, captured the flag and commander of the 38th Alabama, and some 30 prisoners.
The enemy’s heaviest attack was directed against the left for the possession of the knoll, against which he directed three lines. The number of prisoners captured by the brigade was about 60. The enemy in his retreat was pursued by our skirmishers to his intrenchments. The attack was made by Stewart’s div., of Hood’s corps; and was maintained about one hour and a half. The loss of the brigade was comparatively small, owing in part to the protection offered by the breastworks on the left. The loss of the brigade was 13 killed, 135 wounded, 2 missing; total: 150... The precise loss of the ememy I do not know, as the brigade moved before his dead were collected. It must have been greater than ours, however, as there were a great many dead left in our front. The behavior of the brigade in this action was excellent. The 3rd Brigade on my left repulsed the attack of the enemy on their front with equal ease...
...About 12 o’clock at night considerable firing by the enemy occured on my right, but did not extend to my line. The enemy retreated during the night.
On the 16th day of May the briagde, with the division, moved in pursuit of the enemy to Bryant’s Ford, on the Coosawattee River. On the 17th day of May moved from Bryant’s Ford to near Calhoun, Ga. On the 18th day of May, from near Calhoun to near Adairsville, Ga. On the 19th day of May, from near Adairsville to a position in front of the enemy’s position at Cassville, Ga., driving in the enemy’s skirmishers near Cassville at dusk, and forming line within 400 yards of the enemy’s line of breastworks. During the night slight breastworks of earth and rails were constructed by the brigade. The enemy retreated from our front during the night.
May 23, the brigade moved with the division, crossing the Etowah River to Euharlee. May 24, moved from Euharlee to Burnt Hickory. May 25, marched with the division from Burnt Hickory toward Dallas, crossing Pumkin Vine Creek. When within 2 miles of Dallas, countermarched, recrossed the Pumpkin Vine Creek, moved on the left bank to a bridge near Owen’s Mill, recrossed the Pumkin Vine Creek at that point, moved about 2 miles to the position occupied by Gen. Geary’s div., in front of which the enemy had been found in some force. Immediately upon the arrival of the division at that position, dispositions were made for attacking the enemy. The formation of the division for attack was 3 lines, a brigade front. The 3rd brigade in the first line, 2nd Brigade in second, and 1st Brigade in third line. The 13 NJ, Col. Carman, was deployed as skirmishers to cover the right flank of the division. The 2nd Massachusetts Vols. was left at the upper bridge across the Pumpkin Vine Creek as guard.
...June 11, moved to a position in front of the enemy near Pine Hill. June 15, the enemy having fallen back from Pine Hill the night before, the brigade moved forward with the division and took position on the left of the 2nd Div. in front of the enemy’s new position. Some sharp skirmishing took place on going into position, the enemy’s skirmishers being driven in. June 17, the enemy having fallen back the night previous, the brigade advanced with the division over the enemy’s works to Mud Creek. June 19, advanced to Noyes’ Creek. June 20, moved to the right and took position near Atkinson’s plantation. June 22, the brigade, with the division, advanced and took position on a ridge near Kolb’s Farm, driving the enemy’s skirmishers from their position. While in this position, and while our skirmishers were pressing those of the enemy, it was ascertained about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, from prisoners captured and other sources, that the enemy was about to attack us. In accordance with orders, I placed the brigade in position in one line formation, the right resting near the Marietta Road, and connecting with Gen. Hascall’s div., of the 23rd Corps, which mean time had come up by the Marietta Road.
Being in one line and without breastworks, and in accordance with orders, such breastworks were made as could be constructed by rails and other materials within reach. In front of the left two regiments of the brigade (13th NJ and 150th NY) the ground was open about 300 yards to the front. The 1st Brigade prolonged the line to the left along the crest of the ridge, which terminated some 400 yards to the left. Next on the left of the brigade, and between the 1st and 2nd Brigades, was Battery M, 1st NY Arty, light 12-pounders. Very soon after coming in position, the attack of the enemy was made by Hood’s Corps. His columns in approaching were subject to a fire from batteries on commanding positions, and were much disorganized. In the immediate front of the brigade and of the 1st Brigade, the enemy emerged from the cover of the woods in the open ground, and was immediately received by a fire of canister from Capt. Woodbury’s battery. The 13 NJ and 150 NY, in whose front the ground was open, giving a good view of the enemy, now opened fire. The first line of the enemy was followed closely by his second and that by his third. The second soon closed up on his first line, which had halted, and was even disordered before receiving the musketry fire. In a short time all three lines were repulsed and driven back in a confused mass, with heavy loss, the third line advancing but a short distance from the shelter of the woods. The enemy making the attack was Stevenson’s division, of Hood’s corps. Considerable captures might have been made had we had forces disposable for pursuit and to obtain possession of the woods. The loss of the brigade was–killed 3; wounded 25; total 28.
Remained in same position and near it until July 3. July 3, advanced with the division and took position about 3 miles south of Marietta. July 4, moved about 2 miles to the right and with the division took position in front of the enemy. July 5, the enemy having retired the night before, the brigade, with the division, moved in direction of Turner’s Ferry on the Chattahoochee River and took position on a commanding ridge about 2 miles from the river. ... July 18, moved to near Buck Head. July 19, in the evening, advanced to Peach Tree Creek. On the 20th day of July, about 7 a.m., the brigade, with the division, crossed Peach Tree Creek, advanced about 1 mile, and massed on the left and in advance of the position occupied by the 14th Corps. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and while dispositions were being made to drive the enemy from a line of rail breastworks covering the road to Atlanta, the enemy commenced a general attack along the line of the corps. Maj. Lathrop Baldwin, 107th NY Vols., a brave and faithful officer, commanding the skirmish line of the brigade, was mortally wounded while attampting to check the advance of the enemy.
In accordance with orders received from BG Williams, commanding the division, I placed the brigade in position in reserve, relieving Col. Moore’s brigade of the 14th Corps, from a line of partially constructed breastworks, and at once used every means to strengthen the line and extend it to the left to be used in case the line in front of us, composed of the 1st and 3rd Brigades of the division, should be forced.
During the action 3 companies from the 150 NY Vols, under the command of Maj. Alfred B. Smith, moved forward and occupied a gap in the first line. The 27th IN Vols., Col. Colgrove, moved forward on the right of the 1st Brigade, taking position covering the right flank. The action continued until dusk and resulted in the complete repulse of the enemy at all points. The loss of the brigade was killed 7; wounded 30; missing 2; total 39.
On the 22nd day of July, the enemy having fallen back from our front during the night, the brigade, with the division, advanced and took position in front of the enemy’s main line of defenses about Atlanta, and constructed breastworks about 500 yards from the enemy’s position. The brigade occupied this position, the right resting on the railroad and crossing the main road from Marietta to Atlanta, until August 25. The line was advanced during this time to within 350 yards from the enemy’s main line.
On the 30th day of July the picket-line of the division was advanced with supports, the picket-line of this brigade being supported by the Second Massachusetts Volunteers. The greater part of the enemy’s picket was captured, and the position held. A line of breastworks was constructed on the position for the protection of our skirmishers. This was within 250 yards of the enemy’s fort on the road, the fire of which was silenced by a regiment firing through the embrasures during the progress of the work. This duty was as trying to the troops as an ordinary action. If the fire by the regimeny at the embrasures slackened, the enemy immediately took advantage to fire grape into the ranks. The 2nd MA Vols. was relieved from this duty by the 13th NJ Vols, and it by the 27th IN Vols. The losses of the brigade on this day were–killed 4; wounded 39; total 43.
On the night of the 25th day of August the brigade, with the division, moved back to the Chattahoochee River and took position on the south side of the river near the railroad bridge, and at once constructed breastworks. It remained in this position, with the division, covering the bridges across Chattahoochee at that point, during the movement of the main army to the southwest and south of Atlanta.
On the 2nd day of September, the brigade entered Atlanta, which was occupied by the 20th Corps, the enemy having evacuated it the previous night. During all the time from the 13th day of May until the 26th day of August the brigade has been continually in front of the enemy. In addition to the losses from battle there has been a constant drain from losses occuring from day to day on the skirmish line, and frequently on the main line, which has almost always been within musket range of the enemy’s line...
...There were present with me during the campaign of my staff–Capt. William Ruger, assistant adjutant-general of vols., who was severely wounded at the battle near Dallas, Ga., on the 25th of May and incapacitated thereby for further duty during the campaign... First Lieut. George L. Binney, 2nd MA Vols., aide-de-camp... Each and all were efficient and zealous in the discharg of duty...
There were present for duty in the brigade on the 28th day of April, aggregate, 2,763. Loss by casualties during the campaign, aggregate, 771. Loss by discharge on expiration of term of service–2nd MA Inf., 315; 3rd WS Veteran Vols., 157; 27th IN Veteran Vols., 251; total, 723. Gain by recruits, 370. Present for duty in the brigade on September 2, 1, 755...
THOMAS H. RUGER,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding
Brig. Gen. Thomas Howard Ruger
The 2nd Massachusetts Infantry & the Atlanta Campaign, 1 May 8 September, 1864: Battle Reports
Return to the 150th Regiment Home Page